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FG Approves Criteria For Ecological Fund Disbursement


The federal government has approved new criteria for the disbursement of the Ecological Fund to beneficiary states. This followed the recommendations by the National Economic Council (NEC) ad-hoc committee chaired by Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai.
This was disclosed by Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, after NEC meeting presided over by acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa.
He noted that the committee recommended among other things, “a robust governance structure and a stringent disbursement criteria to sanitise the management of the fund”.
He listed the criteria to include physical visitation by the Ecological office team, on-the-spot assessment and verification of the ecological disaster, technical evaluation of the disaster by experts and community involvement.
His words: “NEC approved that prior to the disaster, there must be evidence of advocacy, evidence of existing prompt and emergency response mechanism in place before the disaster.
“Monitoring and evaluation framework must now be built into the application of Ecological Fund as a road map for measuring performance of the fund.
“A feedback team that will review the reports of the disbursement must be in place while adequate publicity of Ecological disaster to create awareness and consciousness in the citizenry to avoid future occurrence is now necessary.
“Also, evidence of cost estimate must be attached to application, adequate justification for the project must be given while due process in vendor engagement must be followed.
“NEC also approved the recommendations that at all times, 50% of the federal government’s share or N20 billion must be reserved for emergencies at the discretion of Mr President”.
Ikpeazu further disclosed that the council was briefed on the balances in the following accounts as at 19th July, 2017: Excess Crude Account (ECA), $2.303 billion; Ecological Fund Account, N27.466 billion; Stabilization Account, N2.553 billion and Development of Natural Resources Account, N77.922 billion.
On his part, the minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelemah, said he made a presentation to Council on reforming Nigeria at the subnational level, emphasising the need to bring Enabling Business Environment Reforms to all tiers of government and indeed to all Nigeria.
He said he informed Council that there was a strong correlation between Ease of Doing Businesses Ranking and Economic prosperity.
He said the Businesses Enabling Environment Agenda being coordinated by the Presidential Enabling Businesses Council was at the heart of government agenda, whose mandate is to remove critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing businesses in Nigeria, aimed at moving the country upwards in global businesses ranking.
He said areas of focus in removing the bottlenecks include starting a business, entry and exit of people, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, paying taxes, trading across borders and the ease of getting construction permits.
Enelemah said Council was also informed that the 4th subnational Doing Business rankings for Nigeria is scheduled for 2018, with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd having taken place in 2008, 2010 and 2014, respectively.
He noted that appropriate templates were already being drawn up to prepare states for the exercise.
He also added that some states such as Kaduna, Ogun, Cross River and Anambra have already commenced work to improve the ease of doing business in their respective domains.
He added that a National Steering Committee had already been constituted to ensure synergy across all stakeholders to ensure the coordinated delivery of the reform objectives.
“Council urged that the ministry should work with an already existing committee being chaired by the minister of state for Budget and National Planning in this regard”, he stated.
The Ministry of Budget and National Planning submitted a draft Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for 2018-2021 to NEC for input as part of efforts to meet the October deadline to submit the 2018 budget to the National Assembly.
Minister of state in the ministry, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, said the MTEF would be submitted to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in two weeks for final approval and preparation for onward transmission to the National Assembly.
Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shitu, presented a Memo to Council on the need for harmonisation of the Right of Way (RoW) charges in respect of telecommunication and related public utility infrastructure on local governments’ councils (LGCs), states and federal highways.
He said the memo spelt out roles/responsibilities of LGCs, states and telecommunication operators in the management of Right of Way (RoW) issues.
He stated that he informed Council that most states were still charging different and higher rates, despite NEC’s resolution that mandated states to adopt and implement federal ministry of Works guidelines for grant of Right of Way to ICT service on highways.
He said the current practice in Nigeria where various telecommunication operators design, survey, dig, deploy and manage their individual fibres networks amounted to duplication of efforts, multiple earthworks and trenches as well as increased administrative and licensing costs.
Shittu’s memo advised all stakeholders to consider, adopt and approve the use of shared duct strategy, managed by a designated agency in all tiers of government for the deployment of public utility infrastructure for effective and efficient service delivery and accelerated socio-economic development of the country, particularly the transformation of various cities, towns and villages to a smart status.
NEC asked the Ministry of Communications to liaise with the states and relevant stakeholders for the smooth implementation of the Right of Way project.


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